updated 5/27/2005 5:33:06 PM ET 2005-05-27T21:33:06

The sudden onset of triple-digit heat led to a rash of deaths among illegal immigrants over the weekend in the Arizona desert, with 12 people reported dead between Friday and Monday.

Scores more were saved in nearly 50 rescue operations, said U.S. Border Patrol spokesmen.

The deaths were scattered along Arizona’s border with Mexico. Five of the bodies were were found west of Tucson.

Dozens of rescues, involving about 40 people in all, were conducted by Border Patrol search and rescue agents in the busiest three-day period ever for the Yuma office of the agency, said search-and-rescue supervisor Dan Sprick.

Dozens more were conducted in the Tucson sector, which covers all but the 50 westernmost miles of Arizona’s border with Mexico.

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